After a very dramatic and life changing event in my life I started to look for answers of the most excruciating questions about life, about God, what is my purpose, what is "this" all about, why am I lying here, in a hospital's intensive care, with my body completely destroyed, who am I after all, what do I want, why didn't I die, why am I living.
The questions were many and my thirst was unquenchable.
I can only say that the Indian guru Osho
- also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - appealed to me with his crazy vision of the New Man.
My search for silence, introspection and contemplation were taking me, since childhood in the mountain, whether for a day trip or staying up alone in a hut, summer or winter for few days.
I did all of this with my natural inclination towards a sense of inner space and freedom, prayer and my love for nature, free from guru or master, free from any sort of spiritual belief.
Sometime in life one walks through a mine field, where the only thing that counts is how you can relay on yourself, not on others. I needed to learn that. I wanted to learn that so that I could do something meaningful with my life for me and for others.Osho conquered my heart and I began my life as one of his sannyasin.
I wanted a new name to mark the beginning of a new life and in a way to absorb a new identity. Who I was, was not fitting me and I made myself available for the unknown.Ma Anand Utkantha
means deep longing for bliss
. The invitation from Osho that came with the letter that announced my sannyas name, was "to make my life a journey, a pilgrimage to find myself, to let the fire of my burning desire to find God be a flame, till I find it. Because when I find my own true self nothing can destroy me."
For someone for whom the only reason I hadn't died, after being run over by a car driving 100 km/h, was God's grace, this name meant a lot to me.
I spent 12 years of my life carrying this name and living most of my time between '86 and '96 in the Osho Commune/Ashram in Poona, India.
The things I learned and what I did are beyond the scope of this writing. It will take a book to explained them all. Some of the things where fun: love, life and laughter, the main teaching of Osho. But others were alienating, conditioning and manipulating, always in the name of the spiritual freedom that Osho was proclaiming. You can't have one without the other, can you? As we were buying and celebrating the good parts, the less good parts were lurking under your skin, and without you even to realize, changing the very fabric of who you truly were.
I left Poona in 96 when the organization running the Ashram decided to reject from the commune anybody who was tested Hep C. I was one of the few that was asked to leave. One of the consequences of my accident, amongst the many, was this new surprise: I was a carrier of Hep C due to the multitude of blood transfusion I had to undergo during the first few weeks after the accident. I guess I have to be thankful I didn't receive HIV. But then I could never have entered the Ashram or any sannyas commune!
[Just as a completion: my health is good as it was always after the recovery in the hospital. I am only suffering from arthrosis pain in various part of my body but I learn how to live with it.]Time to leave.
OSHO died, or as more often said, left his body in January '90 and when in '96 I was facing my definitive departure from Poona I was ready again to finally embrace the rest of the world, my family and friends. The master was not there anymore. What else could stop me to move on?
I waited too long, anyway, to be at service as one of the Ashram bodyworker in the place/commune where the host/Osho left the house for good. He left behind his empty chair as a reminder of the giggling laughter of a man, who although he named himself Bhagwan -God in hindi- was just a man.
All of this happen not without pain and another level of questioning inside that left me for some time, again, really alone. In the time of need you can hardly count on anyone, at least this is true in my experience, and that becomes even more harder when you have been surrounded practically always by so many loving and smiling people with whom you shared so much.
When I look back how many of my sannyasin friends are still "friends", they are not even an handful.
But I must say it is through this intense painful aloneness that I have forged a deep sense of myself and a strength that can conquer any obstacle. Yes, I was a survivor, for the second time and that was not even the last.
My love for India is immense, and one day I may go back, but then it will be to visit places I didn't have the time to see when I was in the ashram, too busy working and meditating to find myself.......
From the great Gandhi
: "To seek God one need not go on pilgrimage or light lamps fed with ghee and burn incense before the image of the deity or anoint it or paint it with vermillion. For He resides in our hearts. If we could humbly obliterate in us the consciousness of our physical body, we would see Him face to face."